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THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN Will Be Performed at Gulbenkian Arts Centre


Performances run 11 - 14 November.

Seen at major festivals around the world to huge acclaim, The Suppliant Women now comes to the Gulbenkian Arts Centre, Canterbury as the first production in a cycle of four plays to be presented over the next few years.

Written 2,500 years ago by the first great playwright Aeschylus, The Suppliant Women is one of the world's oldest plays, presented here in a version by renowned writer David Greig. At its heart are a group of young women in full chorus arguing for their lives, speaking to us across the ages with startling resonance for our times.

The Suppliant Women tells the story of fifty women who leave everything behind to board a boat in north Africa and flee across the Mediterranean. Escaping forced marriage, they hope for protection and seek asylum in Greece. Their arrival in Greece leads to a vote - considered to be the earliest written reference to democracy - with the townspeople choosing whether to accept the migrants or send them home.

The production reunites the creative team behind the original hit show, which comprises composer John Browne, director Ramin Gray, choreographer Sasha Milavic Davies, to create an extraordinary theatrical event featuring music, ancient instruments, and a chorus of Kent citizens.

Using the techniques of Ancient Greek theatre by recruiting and training the people of Canterbury to create this extraordinary theatrical event, The Suppliant Women will see female citizens play the title-role. In Canterbury, this community chorus have been trained and supported by renowned vocal coach Mary King.

The production stars celebrated opera performer Omar Ebrahim as Danaos, father of the displaced women. Accompanying him on stage in the roles of the King is Oscar Batterham. The professional cast will be completed by the Chorus Leader, played by Gemma May Rees.

Music is key to the performance with voices of the chorus providing and incredible soundtrack to the action. They are joined by an aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, often referred to as a 'double flute' but with a sound more akin to bagpipes. The instrument will be played by an expert behind its contemporary recreation, Callum Armstrong, supported by percussionist Ben Burton.

Director Ramin Gray says:

"As a director who has spent a lifetime on contemporary plays, it's a palpable thrill to reach back some 2500 years to the origin of theatre. Aeschylus surprises, stretches and moves me. It feels wonderful to have discovered a new colleague from such an old place and I can't wait to share the piece with audiences."

Composer John Brown says:

"It's such a rich mix - ancient minds communing with contemporary minds, seasoned pros with young amateurs, percussion with ancient double-pipes, and music that's both sacred and primitive all in a fog of meaning. It feels totally alive and I just love it."

This is an extraordinary theatrical event, full of music and movement, The Suppliant Women is part play, part ritual, part theatrical archaeology. It offers an electric connection to the deepest and most mysterious ideas of humanity - who are we, where do we belong and, if it all goes wrong, who will take us in?

This is first part of an epic cycle of plays. Be in at the start of an extraordinary journey into the past.

Book tickets at

Performances run 11 - 14 November.

THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN Will Be Performed at Gulbenkian Arts Centre

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